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Cheese straws made the short-cut way

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During the holiday season, with all the parties we go to, we have lots of what we call "pick-up" foods. For those not familiar with the term, this is what we call food items that can be picked up and eaten by hand without a fork or a knife. This is an easy and convenient way to entertain most anytime, but it's very popular during the Christmas season. It's fun to go to a party, get a plate and "pick up" any of the assortments of snack foods that are there for the enjoyment!

Cheese straws are a favorite party food, which we often see at wedding showers and similar celebrations. They are very good, though you do have to devote a bit of time towards making them. I have a recipe to share that enables you to make cheese straws, but with a major short-cut....you use the frozen puff pastry sheets! When you complete the recipe, you'll have "Caraway Cheese Straws" that you can take for any upcoming holiday gathering!

You begin this recipe by thawing the puff pastry sheets and rolling them out to a 10-inch square. The pastry is brushed with beaten egg and Parmesan cheese. Then, over that goes caraway seeds and black pepper, which adds a unique flavor to these straws. The sheets are cut into 1/2 inch wide strips and baked until puffed and browned. These can be made a day ahead and stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

Two hints about this recipe: for one, I strongly recommend using the Parmesan cheese that comes packaged in a brick and grating it yourself to a fine consistency. The Parmesan cheese designed for spaghetti topping isn't as flavorful in these straws as the fresh, so I really recommend the fresh and grating it yourself. It's well worth the trouble! Also, I would suggest using freshly-ground black pepper. The fresh lends a much more flavorful "bite" to the straws, so again, I recommend fresh over the pre-ground. In case your not familiar with caraway seeds, they can be found in the spice section of most stores.

A while back, I shared another treat that would be great also for holiday entertaining, "Swedish Rolls", which are hot ham and cheese pick-up sandwiches. To get this recipe, follow this link:

http://www.examiner.com/article/ham-and-cheese-that-s-hot-and-hearty

If you need a good "pick-up" for a party this season, try this easy-made snack!

CARAWAY CHEESE STRAWS

  • 1 pkg. (17-1/4 oz.) frozen puff pastry, thawed (2 sheets)
  • 1 egg, beaten to blend
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out each pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface to a 10-inch square. Brush each sheet with egg glaze. Sprinkle each with half of the cheese, caraway seeds, and pepper. Cut each sheet into twenty 1/2-inch wide strips. Transfer the strips to a heavy, large baking sheet, spacing the strips evenly. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool pastries on the baking sheets on cooling racks. May be prepared a day ahead. Store at room temperature in an airtight container. Yield: about 40 straws.

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